Among the 14 students who graduated from the Coca-Cola Institute for Innovation (CII) housed at African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) in partnership with the Liberia Coca-Cola Bottling Company (LCCBC), two students walked away with a scholarship to obtain a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) abroad, while another team walked away with a handsome cash prize.
The CII initiative aims to provide physical and intellectual spaces uniquely designed to stimulate creativity and rigorous research standards in selected graduating seniors.
During the recent graduation ceremony, held on Monday, April 25 at Monrovia City Hall, the graduating students presented completed research works on “How LCCBC Can Expand Its Market to Rural Parts of Liberia Efficiently and Profitably.”
The students were divided into two groups, A and B; with group ‘A’ targeting rural Bong, Margibi, Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties, while group ‘B’ targeted the ‘grand counties’, Bassa and Cape Mount.
The outcome of the exercise, based on the event and views of the participants, was extremely positive. One participant said “even though there was room for improvement, the scholars demonstrated a clear understanding of and appreciation for academic research and innovation in finding solutions to real-life problems, and their recommendations centered on the use of channeling partners.”
Earlier, Dr. Dawn Cooper Barnes, associate vice president for
Academic Support Services at AME University, said as a pioneering model in Liberia’s academic arena, 16 students were competitively selected based on demonstrated academic excellence, as well as the passion for defining relevant challenges besetting their communities, nation and the world during the 2015/16 academic year.
“Original funds for the institute space were provided by the LCCBC, and Cummings Africa Foundation provided academic scholarships for selected CII scholars,” Dr. Barnes said. “Overall, CII is a major success story for the university as the outcomes during its pilot academic year have overwhelmingly demonstrated that AMEU did achieve the goal of fostering and enhancing innovation in the Liberian academic arena.”
She also said most, if not all, CII scholars have demonstrated a passion for innovative thinking, scientific research and the zeal to pursue the highest level of academic and professional excellence.
“Our administrative staff was able to successfully engage partners in Liberia and abroad to ensure that CII scholars who qualified received scholarships to go to graduate school, as well as job placement or guaranteed internships upon graduation from AMEU.
“Two members of the first CII graduating class, Andrew Kamara and Bobby Varma Gray, coincidentally President and Vice President respectively of the 2016 senior class of the university, were the recipients of an outstanding graduate school scholarship opportunity to enter the MBA graduate program at
LEAD College of Management, an affiliate of the University of Calicut, Dhoni, Calicut, India, with free tuition, room and board.
“Additionally, AMEU will provide a stipend for the scholars’ personal expenses during their tenure in India. The scholars, in return, are expected to sign a contract committing to serve AMEU in a professional capacity for an agreed upon time period upon receiving their MBA degrees,” she revealed.
According to Dr. Barnes, the chief sponsor, the LCCBC, challenged the scholars to do the necessary research and provide innovative solutions to a real challenge the company is faced with. Accordingly, the CII administrators provided carefully planned lectures to prepare the scholars to undertake the challenge. LCCBC also provided an in-depth exposure to their business operations.
She said another CII scholar, Bendu Maureen Jusufu, has been offered a full time position at FIB Bank in Monrovia by a volunteer mentor, Mrs. Rhonda Von Ballmoos, who is a senior official at FIB Bank.
Presenting a check of US$5,000 to group ‘B’ for winning the research competition, LCCBC Country Manager Seth Adu Baah said the company is happy to be part of an initiative that is geared towards empowering students to become innovative.
“I cannot say much but from the research we have read, gives us a broad idea on ways we can expand our business in rural parts of Liberia. In addition, internships at LCCBC have been provided for all qualified CII scholars upon graduation from AMEU,” Mr. Baah said.